The much-hyped American Presidential election serves to educate us of the illusion of choice we have. As the entire world watches on, the citizens of the United States of America exercise their freedom of choice to elect their new President from either the Democratic or the Republican parties.
THE ILLUSION OF CHOICE
Almost all the people of the world today celebrate the freedom offered by the concept of democracy as opposed to monarchy which, in most countries, is a thing of the past. But what does that independence or freedom essentially mean? While monarchy imposed control on us, democracy lets us choose the control under which we want to live.
But our essential condition is to be dependent on either this or that control. True independence, by definition, means to have no dependency on any condition or control. Anarchy would probably come close to that but that would be a much worse control to be under.
Individually, financially, nationally, internationally — under so many banners — we want to become independent and we fight for it. All over the world, in every country, there are stories of valiant freedom fighters who laid down their lives for their country’s independence from colonization. After much struggle, are the countries really independent? They are still under the dependence of some government.
The illusion of choice between dependence and independence drives one to covet the position of independence but the reality is that the so-called independence is just another feature of dependence — dependence on another set of factors. The bottom line is that absolute independence is an absolute myth. It is never possible for us to achieve. Our natural position is to be dependent.
THE INVALID ADDRESS OF HAPPINESS
What then actually drives us to fight for independence? A Vedic aphorism says ānandamayo ‘bhyāsāt — “We are all pleasure-seeking by nature”. What we want is happiness. We give so many pseudo-synonyms to happiness like independence, control, freedom, victory, convenience, etc., and chase after these things, which actually serve better as antonyms of happiness. But the truth is that we want happiness. In this material world, there is a great struggle for happiness under various disguises.
But the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Kṛṣṇa certifies this entire material world as duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam (Bhagavad-gītā 8.15) — “a temporary abode full of miseries” — because ultimately, no matter what measure one may take to adjust his circumstances either on this planet or on any other planet in this material world, one cannot avoid the pangs of the repeated cycle of birth, death, old age and disease. All of the masters that we depend upon, whether they be our parents, our doctor, our bank, our lawyer, our insurance, our country, scientists, or politicians, or whoever or whatever it may be, are all agents of the material energy Māyā or Durgā. None can save us from these four greatest problems.
They can only offer a mirage-like promise in the desert of this material world. A mirage presents a different, refreshing choice of situation of water in the otherwise arid environment of the desert. But if we run after it and go there, we find that it is just another feature of the same desert. There is no water. In fact, our chase makes us even more tired and thirsty than before. Nevertheless, that does not mean that water itself is a falsity. It certainly exists but not in the desert. We have to go to a river to get fresh, continuous stream of water.
Similarly, happiness itself is not a myth but it is not to be found here in the material world. We have to enter the kingdom of God, Vaikuṇṭha, to achieve unlimited happiness. Lord Kṛṣṇa confirms this in the Bhagavad-gītā (15.6) — yad gatvā na nivartante tad dhāma paramaṁ mama — “One who reaches My supreme abode never returns to this material world.”
But the mass of people do not know this secret. As stated in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (7.5.31), such people chase after external illusory happiness in the shape of various types of sense gratification and accept as their leaders, men who are as blind as themselves and who encourage them in such sinful activities. In this way, they fall into the great ditch of materialism from which they cannot escape because their hands are tied with the strong ropes of fruitive (karmic) reaction to their sinful actions. In this way, they continue in materialistic life again and again.
THE ASSURANCE OF REAL HAPPINESS
Therefore instead of exercising our independence by choosing dependence on any of the features of the external material energy Māyā, we should take Kṛṣṇa’s advice to employ our independence by choosing to surrender to His direct control. He declares in the Bhagavad-gītā (18.66) thus:
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ
“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.”
daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī
mama māyā duratyayā
mām eva ye prapadyante
māyām etāṁ taranti te
“This divine energy of Mine (Māyā), consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.”
So here lies the answer. Lord Kṛṣṇa is the only master worth taking shelter of because He can give us relief like no other. He can save us from the repeated cycle of birth, death, old age and disease. Since Māyā, or Durgā, is His trusted energy to punish the conditioned souls, she is extremely powerful. No one can overcome her but Kṛṣṇa can order her to release a soul surrendered to Him.
In Bhagavad-gītā (14.4), Lord Kṛṣṇa clearly states that He is the father of all souls in all species of life. Just as in our childhood we depended on our father for protection and lived a carefree and happy life, we should depend on the Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, our eternal father, for our maintenance and be His obedient child. Then we shall be taken good care of in this life and awarded liberation in the next.
Lord Kṛṣṇa assures this in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.22):
ananyāś cintayanto māṁ
ye janāḥ paryupāsate
yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham
“To those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form, I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.” Kṛṣṇa is quite able to maintain all the innumerable living entities. The Kaṭha Upaniṣad (2.2.13) confirms this.
nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām
eko bahūnāṁ yo vidadhāti kāmān
“Among all the eternal, conscious beings, there is one (the Supreme Lord) who supplies the needs of everyone else.”
CAST YOUR VOTE
He is the truly independent entity who does not depend on anyone or anything else for His existence while He remains the source and sustenance of everything else that exists. This is confirmed in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (1.1.1) by the word svarāṭ. Lord Kṛṣṇa declares this truth in the Bhagavad-gītā (7.7) as follows:
mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat
kiñcid asti dhanañjaya
mayi sarvam idaṁ protaṁ
sūtre maṇi-gaṇā iva
“There is no Truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.” He further elaborates thus:
ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo
mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate
iti matvā bhajante māṁ
“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.”
bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ
“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.”
The formula to become a mahātmā is very easy. One simply has to agree to surrender to Kṛṣṇa. The sooner we do it the more trouble we save for ourselves. What does surrender practically mean? It comprises six aspects — (1) the acceptance of those things favorable to devotional service, (2) the rejection of unfavorable things, (3) the conviction that Kṛṣṇa will give protection, (4) the acceptance of the Lord as one’s guardian or master, (5) full self-surrender and (6) humility. One can learn this surrendering process under the shelter of a bona fide spiritual master and in the association of sincere devotees of Kṛṣṇa.
So… to wrap things up, there is a great election campaign going on. Māyā is always enticing all the foolish souls to accept her shelter and Kṛṣṇa is canvassing to all the intelligent souls to accept His shelter. Whom do you want to elect in your life? The choice is yours. [End]